reality is weirder than you think

Tag: goals


Today is a day when I tend to self-reflect, so I’m diving back into my Future Authoring account.

I’m sad that there isn’t a date on it, because I would have LOVED to have known when I wrote this, but I think it was sometime in the summer of 2017. About six months ago, actually.

In six months, I want to be out of [my old job]. No more. This place is a shithole. In two years, I want to be making enough online that I could be considering cutting the cord and supporting myself only on my earnings. In five years, i want to have a comfortable routine writing and editing and publishing books

This makes me laugh (both in the “it’s funny” way and the “tell for cognitive dissonance” way), and I’m so very glad that I opened this back up at this moment in time.

First, the shithole comment. I love synchronicity like that. Sometimes I wonder if I wait too long to do a thing, but then when I do do the thing, it will reference something that I just learned about which would have been completely lost on me had I done the thing earlier. I can never figure out if it’s confirmation bias or if it’s evidence that I have a guardian angel or something. The prominence of the word shithole in my self-assessment and in the media today indicates, to me, that I’m still somehow on the right track.

Second, my five-year vision/goal/whatever scares the spit out of me. Which is funny, considering that the six-month goal is already accomplished and I didn’t even realize I was doing it. Looking back on what I wrote, it all rings true, but I don’t remember writing it. I never once thought about my FutureAuthoring profile as I interviewed for the job and moved to a completely different state. Not once.

Yet I accomplished my goal. And it was easier–once the time was right–than I thought it would be.

It astonishes me how much we can accomplish when we work toward something, even if that something is completely unconscious. When I quit my autoimmune medications, I never consciously made a decision to quit. I just started acting as if I had quit, with the option to reschedule my next infusion if we got to that point.

(Spoiler: we never got to that point.)

You have to do the work, there’s no getting around that, but if you do the work eventually you will look up and you’ll be out of the swamp into the mountains.

Public goals

They say that the best way to build credibility is to make predictions in public, stand by them, and wait for them to come true.

Of course, that’s contingent upon one’s ability to ~~predict the future.

The next best way is to say you’re going to do something, and then do it.

It’s like predicting the future, but you get near-complete control over that future.

Instead of, say, trying to predict the stock market.

So it would make sense that I could list a bunch of New Year’s resolutions here, and then track my progress as I achieve them.

Truth be told, I am too chickenshit to throw my specific goals out for public consumption–or accountability.


Vaguely, my goals involve:

  • Using writing to develop a secondary source of income
  • Taking steps to further bolster my health and beauty

I’m sure I’ll chronicle some of my endeavors here.

Last year ended up being “year of macro,” in which I made some major changes in my life.

This year is “year of micro,” and I’m intending to focus a lot more on my individual actions. How the little actions accumulate over time.

That is the non-stressful way to get to goals. Don’t focus a lot on the decision, but focus more on the doing of it.

And, the volume of “doings” is convenient in letting one document extensively along the way.

Which feeds in to the credibility cycle.


Six months with Batfort

Guys! Readers! All 2 of you! It’s been six months now.

Crazy, right?

You don’t know me, but if you’d been able to look over my shoulder at all the other blogs that I’ve abandoned all over the internet, you’d know that I usually make it about a month before I get bored with an idea and wander away.

For this blog, I decided on no rules. The only rule is “tell the truth.” Even the supposed question at the center of this blog (what is the relationship between aesthetics and truth?) doesn’t even get addressed in some of the posts.

We bounce around from k-pop to the alt-right to my daily life, books and publishing to fashion and my experiences in higher education. It’s not cohesive, not really.

But that’s okay.

It’s gotten us this far.

Some posts I’m actually kinda proud of. Others, not so much.

The goal for the next six month is to create more posts that I’m proud of than posts I’m not. Here’s how we’re going to get there:

  • More posts with infographics, because they’re fun
  • More posts where I talk about what I’m thinking about, even when it seems weird. Those posts seem to flow better.
  • Prioritize writing my posts earlier in the evening, so I’m not falling asleep while I’m writing
  • Write about products and books that I like
  • Try to incorporate more research and sources

Basically, I need to push myself in creating more original content. (Isn’t that the eternal state of the millennial?)

Today at my day job I edited a document that shouldn’t exist. Instead of getting published, it should have been set on fire and drop kicked into the void. Editing that thing was physically painful. If it were to become something that I personally was okay with, I would have to flay it down to the bones and start over.

Looking at that document reminded me that I often have things to say (OPINIONS, WHAT?) and that I have a gift of seeing what should or should not exist on a page or in an argument. Things just make sense once I understand them and their context.

I have the capability. I just need to shift my focus on to this blog and onto things that I want to exist and onto the truth.

That’s what’s important.

Meandering goals

Five years ago, I was on a high-powered biologic drug called Remicade. Remicade is extremely effective at blocking TNF-alpha, part of the signalling mechanism that causes inflammation. It’s also extremely, extremely expensive. The only way I could afford it (even with really good health insurance) was through a subsidization program run by the big pharma company that makes it. It was also magic for my chronic illness.

I had a dream that someday, maybe I could stop taking Remicade.

I thought that I was crazy for dreaming that dream. Seriously, it was difficult for me to fathom a way of living and managing my disease that would create a future where Remicade was unnecessary. Still, I had a goal.

It was a soft goal, not a SMART goal. I didn’t keep it in mind every single day, and it didn’t drive every decision that I made. Yet the idea of being free provided the fuel to move forward with exploring different options to take care of my health.

My specific goal wasn’t to get off Remicade, but I did want to explore the effect that diet had on my health.

My specific goal wasn’t to get off Remicade, but I did research and align myself with doctors who would be receptive to that kind of change in my treatment plan.

My specific goal wasn’t to get off Remicade, but I did pursue alternate theories to why my disease exists in the first place…

…which led me to discovering and treating Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth…

…which led to me getting off Remicade.

Rather than setting myself up against a specific objective with a deadline (which would have stressed me out, thereby triggering my illness and nullifying any attempt to be free of drugs #Catch22), I chose the path of obliquity.

This was completely inadvertent on my part, but it worked.

I have some goals now, new ones. Goals that seem absolutely, crazily unachievable. Goals that I’m not quite ready to speak in public.

Sometimes I wonder if they’ll ever happen.

Then I look back at my journey off Remicade, and realize that I’ve done it before. I can do it again. I just need to make the direction of the goal a priority, and pursue it doggedly.


A metric: the Creative Achievement Questionnaire

I’ve been listening to Jordan B Peterson lectures on YouTube again. (Always super motivating and super depressing at the same time. Reality has a way of doing that to you.)

One of the hardest things to learn about creativity (and anything, really), is that potential means nothing. What matters is what you produce; your body of work.

For those of us just starting out on our creative journeys, it’s important to define what success means and cobble together some metrics to judge whether or not we’re heading in the right direction.

JBP and Shelly Carson created the Creative Achievement Questionnaire to test creative production (not merely creative potential!), and it turns out that it could make a perfect objective measure for achievement in creative pursuits.

My score is 11, which places me at the top end of the Novice Creative category. Mostly of those achievements happened in during my teenage years; I neglected to cultivate my creative talents in university and afterward. There are a couple of scores I could fudge to push myself into the Maker category, but that’s edging into “lying to myself” territory.

Now, as far as using this as a metric: looking over the scoring system shows that each creative domain is scored in a logarithmic scale of difficulty. It will take an immense amount of work to bump up my total score even 1 point, let alone a whole category. However, 1 more point will push me over into Maker–which I could make happen by next year.

If I really double down, I could push myself into the Creative category. I’ll have to formulate some concrete systems and goals to make that happen.

But! We now have a measure for creative output. Let us watch The Gap again and put it to good use.

Read on for the full questionnaire with my scores.

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Salad Days

It’s one of those days. You know what I mean. It wasn’t a bad day, but nothing went quite as planned. I’m a little discombobulated and a lot tired, sitting at my desk. It’s 11:52 pm. I’m eating prosciutto out of the carton and have no idea what to write.

Solution: I’ll name this post “salad days,” after the chapters in L.M. Montgomery books in which she strung together a bunch of journal entries from one of her heroines in order to signify time passing and convey a lot of small, random life updates.

Without further ado:

  • Today marks the end of my 3rd month eating only animal products. Moving forward, I need to continue to whittle out dairy and see what happens. Interesting side note: I had previously thought that I was eating too much fat in general, but it may be that I was eating too much cheese in general. Sad for me, because I love cheese, but probably good for my insides.
  • Not sure what day we’re on for the water-only washing method, but my hair is adapting nicely. I’ve been rinsing nearly every morning in the shower, and some days I can wear my hair down all day. The key is to comb out my hair every night before bed. I’m taking a page from someone on YouTube and bought some Orange Blossom Water (she used rosewater; I’m happy with the Orange Blossom because it has an element of bitterness to balance out the floral perfume) to spray on my hair and make it smell delicious. That’s one downside of not using haircare products: nothing goes in your hair to make it smell nice.
  • I’ve made steps toward a motivated mastermind group. Plans (real, live, executable plans) are in the works. This is probably why I didn’t sleep so well last night. My mind was too busy planning. In related news, sleep remains the most difficult thing to get in my quest for health.
  • This artwork for the making-of version of Taeyang’s White Night album:

Same advice, different source

Fran Meneses is an illustrator who vlogs about…what it’s like to be an illustrator. Or really, a freelancer of any sort. Or even more really, a “choose yourself-er.”

People who have chosen to take their destiny into their own hands instead of a mostly-guaranteed steady paycheck. The people I admire but have convinced myself that I could never join the ranks of, because I’m too scattered and/or lazy and/or lacking for time.

But I watch their videos and read their blogs anyway. I bet you do too.

Here’s a vlog of Fran’s that hit home with me.

Spoiler: her advice is BE PROACTIVE. Don’t wait for someone to tell you how or what to do, but instead figure it out for yourself.

“You only need yourself, and internet, the library and books. You also need motivation…and coffee.”

The funny thing is, as we started rounding out the video, I realized that I have heard most of this advice before. Where? From Mike Cernovich and James Altucher and Tim Ferriss. From other people who have actually done it. (Although they wrap their advice in very different aesthetics than Fran does.)

But what really caught my attention, is that I remember reading these things in the granddaddy of self-help books, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich.

In fact, I pulled out my nearly-full pink sparkly learning notebook circa 2015/2016, where I took notes from my first read-through. Mr Hill is a lot more prolific and early 20th century feeling than Fran, but they share some very common overlapping points.

Fran’s Advice on How to Be Good at Something

  1. What do you want to learn?
  2. Get organized–find where these things live
  3. Make a schedule–so that you will carry through with learning these things instead of procrastinating
  4. Surround yourself with people that motivate you, that make you want to do things
  5. Meet with a study group to learn and discuss
  6. Be consistent

Mr Hill’s Advice on How to Be Good at Something

  1. Desire backed by faith
  2. Clear and definite plan
  3. Decision is the opposite of procrastination
  4. Specialized knowledge (from the library!)
  5. Form a “master mind” group
  6. Persistent, continuous action

Funny how they’re almost exactly the same. Now, I have many more notes on Mr Hill’s advice (which is mostly general), and Fran has many more videos (which are very much more specialized onto freelancing, running an online shop, and illustration) so the comparisons won’t stand up to a huge amount of scrutiny.

I enjoy the synchronicity between them, and the echo of truth that rings when the same advice holds true, and actually works, in 2017 as it did in 1937.

Now, as always with the truth, the hardest part is doing it!

The dark side of “systems not goals”

@fortelabs posted quite a good tweetstorm on twitter today.

He goes on:

It involves generating lots of “non-negotiable” requirements that you “must” do before you can do what you want to do. As in, “Before I do X everybody knows I have to do A, B,C,D, E, F, G, etc.” It’s clever because it sets up an unlosable game. If you fail, you can blame immediate steps for putting the goal out of reach. If you reach X but it took too long, you’re justified because you “followed the correct process.”

There’s more–and I highly recommend clicking through and reading the whole thing–but this sums up the basic premise.

I recognize myself in it. Like, way too much.

“Before I start writing Batfort I need to hone my writing skills and learn how to be disciplined to do something every day and get a real camera and sketch out a whole editorial and business plan and and and”

“Before I can get a car I need to get a new job that pays better and live in a place where parking doesn’t suck and and and”

“Before I can be healthy I need to stop eating carbs and sleep 8 hours a night and stop worrying so much and exercise more regularly and and and”

“Before I can date that attractive man, I need to get a car…”

You get the drill.

It is SO EASY to use the guise of “building a plan” and “doing your research” as an excuse to do nothing of consequence. Yes, plans and research are necessary, but they are not DOING THE WORK. It’s frittering away time and creative energy on small-potatoes things that feel just productive enough that we don’t realize that all of the sudden we ate an entire bag of chips for dinner.

Do that enough times in a row, and you’re going to feel sick.

With all respect to Scott Adams, I have a negative reaction to his “systems, not goals” approach to life. For the longest time I could never figure out why, exactly, but I think this is it.

If you bury yourself in systems, even good ones like going to the gym every day, without having a goal that you’re pushing yourself toward, it’s really easy to settle into the groove of the system. The system becomes your end product, instead of what you designed this system to move you toward.

You work your muscles, but don’t get stronger or build out some sweet pecs.

Sure, goals don’t always work out. There are things that are beyond our control. That’s life.

The resilient pick up, dust off, and keep going. The antifragile incorporate those lessons into their next attempt.

You set a new goal, and move on.

A system alone won’t work: you need something to work toward.

Goals alone won’t work either: you need daily practices to propel you toward them.

Get you a plan that can do both.

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